As we close out 2017, I would like to thank all of you for your engagement and enthusiasm in fashion tech during the Fashion Innovation Alliance’s second year. This continues to be an extraordinary time for fashion tech, startups and the fashion legal community. When Stitch Fix—combining algorithms, human stylists and customer engagement—went public in November we were all able to witness the power of fashion tech in business and for women entrepreneurs. Fashion tech also became more prominent across the global stage—with the launch of the Fashion Tech Lab led by Miroslava Duma and TheCurrent, co-founded by Liz Bacelar.

When the Silence Breakers came forward, the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School provided a safe and supportive forum to address the prevalence of sexual harassment in fashion, politics, media, and entertainment—starting with a candid panel discussion and pop-up legal clinic, followed by testimony for the New York City Commission on Human Rights’ hearing on sexual harassment.

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In 2017, the Fashion Innovation Alliance expanded from an association and platform focused on public policy for fashion tech to a collective and consultancy specializing in global policy and regulatory compliance, access to capital, and inclusion for fashion tech and beauty tech.

We understand that no matter how big or small the entity, strong business relationships are built on trust and excellence—which is why we launched the Fashion Innovation Alliance’s StartupRise educational series for founders in fashion, beauty and retail. Since the launch of StartupRise, FIA has advised numerous entrepreneurs, while also sharing FIA’s network and resources in law, government, and venture capital.

In addition to FIA’s StartupRise series, the Fashion Innovation Alliance continued its partnerships with global organizations, as well as curated gatherings with policymakers in the U.S. and Europe, industry executives, and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, New York and Washington, DC.

FIA’s 2017 Highlights

Internet of Things Policy.  The Fashion Innovation Alliance’s voice as part of the broader Internet of Things (IoT) community did not go unnoticed. In its January IoT report, the U.S. Commerce Department-National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) highlighted the Fashion Innovation Alliance and the importance of fashion tech as part of the Internet of Things ecosystem. FIA also sent policy recommendations to NTIA in March, about how to ensure that government and industry work together to advance the growth of the Internet of Things—particularly for fashion tech.

Immigration Reform for Fashion and Tech Talent.  While 2017 was a tumultuous year for U.S. immigration policy, the Fashion Innovation Alliance continued to push for policy changes for immigrant entrepreneurs in fashion and tech. As FIA founder Kenya Wiley noted in her opinion piece in WWD, restricting immigration has serious consequences for fashion and tech. In August, after the current Administration announced its plans to delay and rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule, the Fashion Innovation Alliance submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging DHS to move forward and implement the final rule. The Fashion Innovation Alliance also joined forces with FWD.us, supporting legislative efforts to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients at risk of being deported.

Tax Reform. As House and Senate leaders debated tax reform—from the initial framework to the final stages of legislation—FIA provided regular updates to FIA members/clients on the implications of tax reform legislation on fashion tech, retail and startups. FIA’s tax policy advisor Jorge Castro also discussed the initial tax reform framework released by Congressional leadership and the White House in Women’s Wear Daily.

Inclusion for Tech and Creative Talent.  Diversity and inclusion—particularly for positions of power—remained a hot topic this year for many in the fashion, tech and startup ecosystem. The Fashion Innovation Alliance continued to push for inclusive opportunities for founders in fashion, beauty and retail—helping FIA members/clients with access to capital and other resources to expand and scale up their operations. FIA founder Kenya Wiley presented at the MIT Media Lab in November, where she discussed the importance of inclusion for fashion tech and steps necessary to push diversity forward.

Data Security and Privacy.  With the increase in cyber attacks on digital commerce and connected devices, data security and privacy policy will remain at the top of the policy agenda for fashion, tech and retail. FIA met with U.S. congressional offices to discuss cybersecurity and privacy for fashion tech. FIA also provided regulatory and legislative updates to the fashion and tech communities throughout the year: including at the Federal Bar Association’s Fashion Law Seminar; the Fashion Law Institute’s annual symposium; and at the international meeting of ASTM’s Smart Textiles Task Group on Data Security in Toronto. FIA founder Kenya Wiley also explained the significance of data security and privacy for women entrepreneurs in an article for ELLE in March.

Global Policy and Outreach. The Fashion Innovation Alliance expanded its reach across the Atlantic this year—joining smart fabric startup Loomia at the LVMH Luxury Lab at Viva Technology in Paris, and participating in Forum Europe’s 8th Annual Internet of Things (IoT) European Summit in Brussels. FIA founder Kenya Wiley presented at the IoT European Summit, covering AI, AR/VR and other emerging technologies disrupting fashion and retail. Kenya also discussed implementation of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for U.S. based startups—effective in May 2018.

FIA’s full Year in Review for 2017 is available here.

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